Lewis Responds to Increasing Depression Rates Among Freshmen

Andrea Earnest, Online Editor-In-Chief

The Higher Education Research Institute recently released the results of The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014 Survey. The survey was taken by about 150,000 students at 227 colleges.

The survey found that 9.5 percent of incoming college students frequently felt depressed during the past year and that 34.6 percent felt overwhelmed by school work and other committments. These have increased since the survey from only five years ago, in which 3.4 percent felt depressed, and 27.1 percent felt overwhelmed.

The results of this survey have shown the importance of university health centers or counseling services. Lewis has created several programs and classes to try to help students deal with depression, stress, anxiety and any other issues.

“Given the contextual factors of the heightened generational stress in young adults,” Michele Manassah, director of counseling services said, “the volume of students that brings to counseling centers is one issue, while the contextual needs of many young adults, including less time spent with friends, intense pressure to succeed and social media use as a negative, all point to counseling center collaboration with the wider campus in promoting and enacting prevention and early intervention.”

The programs available to support students include suicide prevention gatekeeper training, assessment and care team presentations to faculty and staff, as well as visits from Tippi, a therapy dog.

“In the future, we will continue to do these things as well as more proactive collaborations in an effort to get our services and messages outside the counseling room,” Manassah said. “I believe that social media and student organizations also play a role in reaching students who would not otherwise come to counseling,”

Lewis also offers the Introduction to College Experience (ICE) class for students during their freshman year, where they are able to indicate if they are having issues. ICE mentors can also note if they feel a specific student is struggling.

The Counseling Center recognizes that improving its efforts would help students further by providing additional support.

“While our first responsibility is always responding to students in need, I am mindful that only doing clinical work would severely limit us in being a part of a bigger contextual solution,” Manassah said. “Moving forward, we will continue to work on innovative programming, collaborative relationships with faculty, staff and student groups, social media influence and student involvement in educating their peers.”

Students looking for more information can call the Health and Counseling Center at (815) 836-5455.

Andrea Earnest

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